Matt Cruickshank may be only 19 years old but he’s certainly making a name for himself on and off the ice. The Owen Sound, Ontario native was acquired by Ottawa from the Cornwall Colts and as a veteran in the CCHL, he is excited to become a leader with a new group of young players. At 6’0″, the towering defenseman holds the blue line like there’s no tomorrow but with his skill is able to join the rush. No doubt eyes will be watching his play this year. I had a little chat with Cruickshank and it’s amazing to see a player of his age so humble and have a good head on his shoulders.
March Hockey: What do you think you’ll be able to bring to the Jr. Senators this CCHL season? How do you think the Ottawa Jr. Senators will do?
Matt Cruickshank: This year I am a veteran in the league with some high level experience in the game. With half my team being rookies I hope to bring leadership and confidence to the locker room. It’s my job to let all players know that I got their back if ever needed on or off the ice. Also my defensive role will be a factor to our already well rounded defense core.
So far with a record of 0-2-3 we are being doubted from other teams and people around the league. As a leader of the team and knowing the amazing players and coaching staff we have, our record now does not fear me at all. With half of our team being hard working speedy rookies and the other half being committed mentoring veterans, I truly believe we can be a top 5 finishing team in the league. Just need to stay positive and stick to what we are doing. The wins will come.
MH: How would you describe your style of play? What players do you look up to, if any?
MC: I consider myself as a stay at home defenseman. The kind of guy to get lots of penalty killing time to block shots, keep the puck out of my net, and play against top lines. Just because I lack skill, doesn’t mean I don’t have a role. I would compare my game to someone like Adam Foote or Scott Stevens.
MH: How was the experience of representing Team Canada East last year? What did you learn?
MC: My experience at Canada East will last a lifetime. From one week not even knowing what Canada East was to being able to put on the red and white was just a dream come true. The feeling you get stepping on that ice with over a thousand screaming fans in read and white still gives me shivers today. Besides the hockey aspect, I had a great time touring Nova Scotia with the guys and seeing a part of our beautiful country that I’ve never seen before. Also can’t forget I had my first lobster!
MH: Off of the ice, you are dedicated with volunteering. Obviously that’s a great characteristic to have. Why do you think it’s important to give back?
MC: Growing up as a young kid I lived for the game of hockey. I would always watch NHL on team and go to local Jr. B and OHL games in my hometown of Owen Sound to cheer the players and guys that I looked up to. If I saw them slam their stick then I would too; if I saw them with a certain haircut I’d get the same. So saying that I find it very important to be a role model off the ice for young athletes to follow because if they see you being respectful, caring, and a nice person off the ice, those characteristics will be noticed and rub off on them. To completely answer your question, it’s important to give back because without the community, or family and the people around us, we would not be where we are today. Just because I am busy with junior hockey, doesn’t mean I can’t give back to help others succeed and make their life easier, the same way others did for me when I needed it. A smile goes a long way!
MH: Where do you see your hockey career taking you?
MC: Well being 19 I need to be realistic with my hockey career. I love the game and will do anything I can to be the best I can be. But saying that, my dream is to finish off my junior career on a high note and attend university at the highest level possible playing hockey and getting my degree.
MH: If you could watch one game between any two teams of your choice, who would you choose and why?
MC: I’d have to say Slap Shots Charlstown Chiefs and the Cornwall River Kings. Most likely my favorite movie ever and the most exciting and entertaining team to watch last year. Who wouldn’t wanna grab a bag of popcorn and watch that game.